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Archives for musings

Mince Pie Scalpers

December 31st, 2020

It’s no secret that I love mince pies. But due to the pandemic I’m stuck in Shanghai this Christmas and the seasonal delicacy is hard to source. Now everyone who’s lived in China knows you can buy anything on Taobao, and sure enough I found a 代购 daigou specialising in British foodstuffs.

Unfortunately the price is around 5-10x what you’d normally pay in the UK. Feeling desperate I bought one box of Waitrose pies anyway, for a total of ¥154 with shipping (about £17). It eventually arrived two days before Christmas and a joyous time was had by all.

A delicous Waitrose regular mince pie

New Lego Pirates Ahoy

December 27th, 2020

A few years ago I thought I had finally collected all the classic Lego pirates. But no! Lego have just recently release a new set in the traditional style! Obviously I had to get it for Christmas and I wasn’t disappointed…

Thank you Santa

The set has over 2500 pieces and I spent two days building it. I’ve literally never spent that long on a Lego set.

The island form

It’s supposed to be a pirate base made out of an old pirate ship that ran aground.

Pirate captain and pirate pub

You can actually build two models and switch between them without much effort: the three boat parts clip out and can be assembled into a whole pirate ship.

The boat form, resembling the old Lego pirate ship

Air Pollution

December 12th, 2020

The air quality has been getting worse and worse the last few days. But today it reached new lows of “very unhealthy”. I think the icon is recommending me to wear a gas mask. Perhaps it should be comforting that there’s still as “hazardous” level beyond this.

I think I’m going to stay inside

A Problem at the High Sea

November 12th, 2020

Yesterday my inbox received an urgent plea from Mr Leslie Simpson. My dear friend Leslie has run into a ghastly problem at the high sea.

Please i am contacting you because of the problem we have now at the high sea, now the situation here is getting worse and we’ve done all we could to put the brain box of the ship in order but to no avail, and beside we just received information from the Signal house that there are sea pirates from Indonesia blocking the sea. They are about 312 KM away from us and the nearest place for this Ship to anchor is Labuan Island somewhere in East Malaysia. As it is now, we are no longer safe because we fear the pirate’s attack because the ship is very slow now. We have called for a rescue team but we are yet to get a response from our headquarters.

The captains of the Ship have announced that all passengers should offload their goods for another means of transportation as the SHIP will duck here for other weeks until its safe to continue sailing.

I am intrigued as to what problem has befallen the brain box of the ship. But I am glad Leslie managed to evade the sea pirates and reach Labuan Island safely.

My problem now is my documents and my earn time savings and little part of the money I also took as loan are with me here in the ship, it is which I kept in my cabin safe box. I do not want it stolen from me in the event of any attack. My plan was to use this money USD$23.4 Million United State Dollars to buy Metal oil in drums in Australia and supply to a company in Mexico. I already had a contract agreement with and the documents are for my contract so I have to be careful.

I have discussed with one of the security company here. They will proceed delivery immediately I get a confirmation from you to assist me in receiving this money because there is no bank here and I don’t want to lose the money to sea pirates because I know how I suffered for it.

Now follows several paragraphs about how I can help Leslie by storing the money in my bank account, and the information I need to provide him for this. I hope this security company is as trustworthy as I am.

I am sitting by the seashore now and waiting for your quick reply. Please I need your prayers this time because we are in a state of confusion praying that nothing happens to us.

Sadly I think the state of confusion will persist for a good while longer.

Puzzling

October 9th, 2020

Finally finished!

What with having to stay in a lot more recently I’ve taken to doing puzzles. This one took ages: most of the pieces are either just blue or black.

Reaching the most difficult part

Taking out the Rubbish

January 31st, 2020

Yes this will definitely protect me from the coronovirus

On the plus side I got an extra 10 days holiday. Downside is I can’t go outside.

What a waste of a sunny day

Android Connectivity Check and NTP in Mainland China

October 13th, 2019

If you’re using an Android phone with LineageOS or similar close-to-stock ROM in mainland China you may have problems with NTP not syncing and every WiFi network being marked as “no internet access”.

By default Android tries to access http://connectivitycheck.android.com/generate_204 to determine if a network has internet access. This is also used for captive portal detection. The android.com domain is completely blocked by the Great Firewall.

The default NTP server is 2.android.pool.ntp.org. At lease some of the servers in this pool are either blocked or have poor connectivity from China.

You could work around this by using a VPN all the time. But it’s actually easy to change these settings, and you only need ADB access, not root.

First change the connectivity check URL to Google’s China holding page.

adb shell settings put global captive_portal_http_url 'https://www.google.cn/generate_204'
adb shell settings put global captive_portal_https_url 'https://www.google.cn/generate_204'

You can use another URL that generates a HTTP 204 response if you don’t want to rely on anything Google.

Next change the NTP server:

adb shell settings put global ntp_server pool.ntp.org

pool.ntp.org should give servers geographically close to you. Alternatively you might like to use cn.pool.ntp.org.

Lego Submarine

October 11th, 2019

When I was child I had a bit of a thing about building Lego submarines. I think it started after we went on a day out to the soviet submarine in Folkstone, sadly no longer open to the public. Anyway it seems I’ve still got the skillz.

At the front we have the sleeping area for the crew and some missiles. The next room is the on-board dentist because… reasons. Followed by the crew relaxation area and the nuclear reactor / engine room at the rear. Upstairs is the control room.

Linus Torvalds

July 13th, 2019

I finally saw Linus Torvalds live! I think, however, reading his online rants is considerably more interesting than watching a staged conversation. 🙃

Weird Sunset and a Relocation

October 13th, 2018

So I decided to take a job doing open source-y things for a certain well-known CPU vendor. More on that in the future, maybe. But as part of that I relocated to Shanghai. Now I live up here in the sky:

Some apartment blocks and things

Last weekend there was mini-typhoon. It rained a lot and then there was this really strange sunset.

I didn’t notice the construction site when I viewed the apartment